Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2101
Who creates criminal records?Region: Ontario Answer # 2101
Criminal records are usually created when the local police charge a person with a federal offence. Most people are charged with Criminal Code offences; a small percentage of charges (5%) are drug offences under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; and about 1% of the charges are for offences under various other federal statutes. After the police charge someone with an offence, the local court that has the authority to deal with those charges will then create its own records.
In most cases, the police will photograph and fingerprint the individual in addition to laying charges. The charging police service can be municipal, such as the Vancouver Police Department, provincial or territorial, such as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), or federal, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). In areas where there is no local police, the RCMP is contracted to fulfill the role of local law enforcement. The RCMP acts as the provincial and territorial police for 7 provinces and our 3 territories, as well as policing the less populated rural areas throughout the country. This means that the charging police in these areas will be the RCMP even where the charge is for a minor offence.
For their part, each court creates its own criminal records, distinct from the police and each other. Courts differ by levels of legal superiority and are also separated by jurisdiction (different for each province). Provincial and territorial courts responsible for criminal prosecutions are either considered ‘inferior’ (which hear minor criminal matters) or ‘superior’ (which hear serious criminal matters). Court decisions can be appealed to a higher court.
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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